Isaiah 43: 15-21; Luke 7: 18-23
Today’s passage was given to God’s people, who were mired down, beaten, and about to give up, especially for those who needed hope, peace, love, and joy. Of course, that means all of us. The two lessons and the wisdom from the passage are simple and clear.
The first part is, in verse 18, “Do not remember the former things, do not ponder ancient history.” Believe it or not, we often spend more energy on “former things”—“we used to this and that.” We likely remember it much better than it really was. By contrast, we remember all things in a negative way—"We should have done this or that; we could have done this or that.”
Christmas is a time when God speaks clearly and when God acts decisively. It is a time for letting go and forgetting and giving up and releasing all that is past. I’d like to remind us of the reason we stop and pause: to let go, to create a quiet space to turn loose and release and forget and abandon the old of the life that weighs us down.
The second part of the wisdom we also can get from today’s passage is, “Behold, I am doing a new thing.” Isaiah pokes us with a little impatience, “Do you not perceive it—God who is doing a new thing?” “Haven’t you noticed the newness God is working now?”
The church is the community and people who spot the newness that God is doing a new thing, making us live in the conviction and awareness of hope, peace, joy, and love from God—who is still at work--healing, restoring, liberating, and reconciling.
However, perhaps, we are often blind or have a distorted vision that we cannot see things clearly. Perhaps, we are often lame that we have parts of our lives that have crippled us and kept us from living freely. Perhaps we often become like a leper in that we have elements of deep uncleanness in our lives that cut us off from God and others and that make us less than fully accepted. Perhaps we are partly dead, having grown tired and numb and indifferent and resigned, living in a hopeless life. Perhaps, we often act like the poor, poor in money, poor in spirit, poor in faith.
That is why we come and stand before the holy story of the birth of Christ—Jesus has come here, and with Jesus has come the real power of God’s newness, so those who are blind are to receive new eyes, to see the world and ourselves and our neighbor differently, to see them as God’s beloved; those who are lame to receive power and energy beyond our old handicaps, to move beyond our capacity; those who are unclean are to receive the good news that God is not pre-occupied with our leprosy, but invites us to full fellowship, no longer disqualified or excluded; those who are poor are to receive God’s grace and mercy that are not held against us, including old bills unpaid, all old accounts unsettled, all old hurts unhealed, and all old sins unforgiven.
Our new beginning and newness are not just our idea; it is God’s act, God’s gift, and God’s promise.
Thanks be to God.